Tag Archives: genre too

Review ~ Maps and Legends

Maps and Legends: Reading ans Writing Along the Borderlands by Michael Chabon

Maps and Legends is an essay collection by American author Michael Chabon that was scheduled for official release on May 1, 2008, although some copies shipped two weeks early from various online bookstores. The book is Chabon’s first book-length foray into nonfiction, with 16 essays, some previously published. Several of these essays are defenses of the author’s work in genre literature (such as science fiction, fantasy, and comics), while others are more autobiographical, explaining how the author came to write several of his most popular works. (via Amazon)

Some highlights for me:

Chabon treads on the issue of genre. “Imagine that, sometime about 1950, it had been decided, collectively, informally, a little at a time, but with finality, to proscribe every kind of novel but the nurse romance from the cannon of the future.” And that’s sort of what’s happened when one talks of literary fiction. It’s been decided that serious literature can only be one thing and things that don’t fit the mold (like “genre” novels) aren’t serious. This ignores the fact that many classic authors wrote detective stories and ghost stories and overwrought gothic romances. As a fine-arts-trained comic book reader, Chabon struggled with “literary” versus “genre.” He successfully sidesteps the issue by writing such things as a fine literary novel about comic book creators…

This dovetails with the Thrilling Tales anthology that I’ve been reading that was edited by Michael Chabon. The stories all seem to be investigations into genre by the Literary Establishment. Another essay introduces the notion that some of the things that fans enjoy most are the things in a story that are unmapped. For example, Irene Adler appears in one Sherlock Holmes story. One. Moriarty gets mention in two or three. Yet these two characters are incredibly important to the Holmes fandom. They are who a lot of other fiction is written about. We feel the need to fill in the blank places on the narrative map when we see them.

Many of these essays are pretty much Chabon talking about stuff he likes. Comics, Sherlock Holmes, Norse mythology, M. R. James. For me, those essays, even ones about things I don’t really care about (like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road), were more interesting than the essays in which Chabon talks autobiographically about writing. I think this is probably more due to me than the quality of the essays. I’d always rather hear about the things someone loves. I’m not implying that Chabon isn’t passionate about being an author, but that’s an issue that is complicated by a great many other things.

Publishing info, my copy: Open Road Integrated Media, Kindle Edition, 2011
Acquired: Amazon
Genre: Non-fiction

Review ~ Fangirl

Cover via Goodreads

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind? (via Goodreads)

Back in February, I was looking for something lighter to read, something that wasn’t set between 1850 and 1930, where I often find myself. I decided that I’d check to see if the digital library had Rainbow Rowell’s Landline available, Landline being her more adult novel. (To recap: YA? Just generally not my bag of tea. I’m 40 and cantankerous. Young people annoy me. 😉 )

Landline was all checked out, but Fangirl was available. I’d read the blurb when Fangirl came out and I…just wasn’t that interested. But then I read first couple of sentences.

There was a boy in her room.

Cath looked up at the number painted on the door, then down at the room assignment in her hand.

Pound Hall, 913.

This was definitely room 913, but maybe it wasn’t Pound Hall—all these dormitories looked alike…

And once again, Rainbow Rowell got me with the nostalgia. See, when I was a student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I lived in Pound Hall. I started out in Sandoz Hall, but after nearly two months I moved to Pound when I was given the opportunity to have a no roommate. I lived for the rest of that year and the next on the 5th floor and then moved down to the 3rd for my junior and senior years. I know Pound Hall. Even though I could probably figure where 913 is, I see Cath and Raegan’s where mine was on 5: at the end of the hallway by the stairwell. I see the cinder block walls and the built-in desks and bookshelves.


Floor plan of my room in Pound Hall.

There are other nostalgia things as well: Love Library’s stacks that had their own weird air currents, dashing back across campus after dark when alone (when you’re a freshman girl) because you’re certain you’ll be attacked (fairly unfounded fear, shed by second semester), and the fact that starting out no one from Omaha actually knows where East Campus is. Fangirl kind of made me marvel at how *I* managed to make it through freshman year. It also made me really appreciate where I am now.

So, the story itself. The blub makes it seem more like this book going to be about writing fan fiction than it is. Sure, there’s some comment on fan fiction’s place within the realms of what is “legitimate” writing, but Fangirl is really about the girl. It’s about Cath dealing with all those college-y things and her own brand of crazy while having this very firm backbone of Simon Snow fandom to help her stay upright. And, to make this about me again, how much did ST:TNG and X-Files help introverted me? There is a beauty to fandom; it gives people common interest, a starting point. Fangirl is a love letter to that.

Publishing info, my copy:  St. Martin’s Press, Kindle Book, Sep 10, 2013
Acquired: Tempe Public Library OverDrive Collection
Genre: YA

Review ~ The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Vol. 1

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Vol. 1 edited by Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Cover via Goodreads

From hitRECord, the immensely popular open collaborative production company, and its founder, Golden Globe-nominated actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, comes The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1.

The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories.

To create The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, known within the hitRECord community as RegularJOE–directed thousands of collaborators to tell tiny stories through words and art. With the help of the entire creative collective, Gordon-Levitt culled, edited and curated over 8,500 contributions into this finely tuned collection of original art from 67 contributors. Reminiscent of the 6-Word Memoir series, The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1 brings together art and voices from around the world to unite and tell stories that defy size (via Goodreads)

I nabbed this little volume at San Diego ComicCon. I’ll be honest, I purchased it to get at a free Sherlock tote, but the book honestly intrigued me. It was different, small and red and hardback, in a world of door stoppers, overpriced paperbacks, and electronic files. Previous to it, I had no idea about Joseph Gordon-Levitt and HitRECord, though it doesn’t surprise me. Gordon-Leavitt seems to be the type to parley his fame into projects he wants to do. (I imagine his continued career will be a bit like Clint Eastwood’s–does what he likes and, generally, you’ll like it too.)

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories is what it says on the tin. Slim and smaller than a mass market paperback, the stories are very short, just a few evocative sentences at most, and quirkily illustrated. You can consume this book all at once, or maybe just nibble at a time, but you can definitely come back for seconds.

There are two other volumes which I haven’t read yet. And they’re stocking-stuffer sized!

Genre: Super Short Stories
Why did I choose to read this book? Intrigued
Did I finish this book? (If not, why?) Yes
Format: Hardback
Procurement: Booth at ComicCon